Dixon: Indy GP favoured Ganassi’s aggressive strategy

Grand Prix of Indy winner Scott Dixon says the timing of the race's only full-course caution meshed ideally with Chip Ganassi Racing's "aggressive" race strategy

Dixon: Indy GP favoured Ganassi’s aggressive strategy

The five-time IndyCar Series champion dominated the second half of Saturday's race after making his second pitstop just before the yellows came out for an accident to Oliver Askew's Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet.

That - and some modifications to his car's handling at the pitstop - allowed Dixon on alternate tyres to hunt down the two-stopping RLL-Honda of Graham Rahal who at that stage was leading with Firestone's primary rubber.

After sweeping past Rahal shortly after the caution period, Dixon pulled a lead of nearly 10s before making his final stop and extended his advantage thereafter to win by 20s.

"I think we kind of got a little bit lucky, but I think it also played into our strategy," said Dixon, who had finished runner-up for the past three seasons on the Indianapolis road course.

"We started pretty aggressive, all three Ganassi cars on the black [primary] tyre, which was definitely pretty tough.

"We were able to pick up one spot on the start, and that kind of set us into a pretty aggressive three-stopper, and that's when our window was to pit. Then three, four laps later the yellow came out and we were the ones that cycled towards the front.

"Definitely a little bit of luck there, but honestly it was just the strategy we were on, and hung out the leaders for sure. But we had the pace."

Rahal meanwhile was left to rue the full-course caution having saved enough fuel beforehand to make a two-stop strategy feasible, but lost any advantage as the field bunched up behind him.

"I thought the strategy was honestly working perfect," he said. "Coming out of the pits after the first stop and still being right with [Will] Power and [Jack] Harvey and all the good guys, the guys I was racing at that time, all I kept thinking was that when the pits cycled through for the last time, we'd have about a 25- or 30-second lead.

"But obviously the yellow came out and kind of nullified our strategy because then everybody just got to pit under yellow and then there was just one more [stop] to go.

He added: "That's life. Strategy has burnt me before, and it's helped us a lot before. We've won races because of it.

"And Dixie was very fast today. Would we have won? We certainly would have had more of a buffer, but he was definitely quick. When he caught up to me, it was almost impossible on the blacks, plus fuel saving, to keep him behind me."

Dixon praised the Ganassi team for the off-season staffing boost and tech shake-up that meant his former race engineer Chris Simmons moved into a technical director role while Michael Cannon arrived from Dale Coyne Racing to run the #9 car.

"Kudos to Cannon and everybody on the team," said Dixon, who also won the opening round of the championship in Texas.

"It's kind of a new team for us, a lot of new people, so obviously we've got a lot more depth this year, too, because we kept most of the other people, as well, they just kind of moved around to different areas and helped for support and management.

"It's nice to have a fresh set of eyes not just from Cannon but also the Ford GT program, especially in endurance, which I think was a big help. Brad Goldberg [now working on Marcus Ericsson's car] has been massive in just thinking about different ways of looking at dampers, car set-ups and oval stuff. There's definitely areas over the last few years where we've kind of let slip and maybe not been as dominant as we should be as a team and kind of on the back foot a lot.

"I like Cannon. He's a great person. He's a real racer. I just like his approach. He's pretty laid-back but methodical and doesn't just throw a bunch of things at it. He really thinks about it.

"It's been a fun start to the year so far, and if we can keep this rolling that's obviously the goal, but we'll see how it goes."

shares
comments
Dixon eases to GP of Indy victory as caution period thwarts Power

Previous article

Dixon eases to GP of Indy victory as caution period thwarts Power

Next article

How Ganassi's pursuit of perfection is paying off

How Ganassi's pursuit of perfection is paying off
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon
Author David Malsher
The Indycar season that proves Michael Andretti is better than F1 showed Plus

The Indycar season that proves Michael Andretti is better than F1 showed

Often unfairly characterised as a car-breaker, judged for his lack of an Indianapolis 500 win and a disappointing part-season of Formula 1 in 1993, Michael Andretti was highly respected by his rivals and only thwarted greater success by ill-fortune. When it all came together in 1991, he was a truly formidable force

IndyCar
Mar 6, 2021
How McLaren is striving towards IndyCar's elite Plus

How McLaren is striving towards IndyCar's elite

The second year of McLaren's full-time IndyCar return is looming, with Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up. Strong team personnel and work behind the scenes means that 2021 could be the year it joins the established elite

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
The enigmatic legacy of a misunderstood Indy stalwart Plus

The enigmatic legacy of a misunderstood Indy stalwart

Flashes of brilliance amid spells of obscurity have been too common for Marco Andretti. While the third-generation racer has opted to bring his full-time IndyCar career to a close, his peaks and troughs have never been for want of trying

IndyCar
Jan 20, 2021
Why American racing's top dog is without equal Plus

Why American racing's top dog is without equal

A byword for success in business and in motorsport for over 50 years, Roger Penske's importance to the US scene cannot be understated. In an exclusive interview, the custodian of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway reflects on his journey

IndyCar
Jan 11, 2021
The McLaren that rendered its Indy rivals obsolete Plus

The McLaren that rendered its Indy rivals obsolete

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indycar game-changer that won its third Indianapolis 500 five years after its debut

IndyCar
Dec 22, 2020
Why Newgarden's best IndyCar season yet wasn't enough Plus

Why Newgarden's best IndyCar season yet wasn't enough

Josef Newgarden feels he didn't put a foot wrong in 2020, yet his finest season-long run of performances failed to yield a third series championship. But in a warning shot to Scott Dixon, Team Penske's team leader has vowed to redouble his efforts in 2021

IndyCar
Dec 21, 2020
How Dixon held on in IndyCar's most unpredictable season Plus

How Dixon held on in IndyCar's most unpredictable season

Three wins on the trot gave the Chip Ganassi Racing superstar the cushion he needed to hang on for a sixth title in the face of Josef Newgarden's late challenge. Here's the rundown of a typically frantic IndyCar campaign in an extraordinary year

IndyCar
Nov 28, 2020
The balancing act required for improving racing at Indy Plus

The balancing act required for improving racing at Indy

Calls for an improvement in the racing spectacle at the Indianapolis 500 have been met with small aerodynamic tweaks from IndyCar on superspeedways. But where such high speeds are involved, even minor adjustments require significant planning

IndyCar
Oct 31, 2020